Just how troubled is the Prescott?

The_I

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I'm planning on building a new system to replace my old trusty northwood a 2,0 ghz / i845e / gf4 ti4200. Untill recently I've been pretty certain it should be a p4, my intel-experience have been extremely good, performance was satisfactory and stability was superb, no blue screens or crashes of any kind at all, never had to reboot the damn thing!

So I've been pretty certain it's successor should be a p4 as well, I've been sceptical to AMD part from experience with friends' computers, and at least at the time I build my current rig the summer of '02 people (including tomshardware) were saying that especially intels chipset were more stable. The stability-talk seems to have subsided a little (or maybe I’m not frequenting enough Intel vs. AMD threads), is this still something to take into account?

I’ve come to use my stationary almost exclusively for gaming and music, I do serious stuff and most of my web-surfing on my subnote. I play a lot of music on my computer, it’s encoded in .ape-format, I have an audigy zx that I plan to reuse with my next rig as well, connected with that there’s two considerations: 1, what kind of impact will this ‘soft multitasking’ have on different processors (how much would HT mean?), 2 that I need the rig to be pretty quiet when not gaming so I’m able to listen to music without to much distraction. I’m also considering using the rig for a game-server, here noise is a factor as well of course as it’ll have to be on in the same rooms as I live.

If I was going for p4 I’d take a Prescott 540 on a MSI MBPC 925X NEO2 Platinum, 2gb ddr2 533 (cl4), in a Lian Li PC-V1100B cooled by a Zalman CNPS7000B-CU with an adaptor for socket 755. This costs around 1400 $ where I live (in Denmark).
To that I’d be adding a GF 6800gt-class gfx-card.
I can get a 90 nm amd 64 3500+ with ddr 400 ram for about as much where I live.
I’m planning on running this rig at least 2 years, maybe even 3, without updates, I’m not a heavy gamer and have only relatively recently felt the need to upgrade from my previous rig.

As far as I have understood there’s two problems with going the p4-way: heat and performance, I’d like to know how much to make of each of them really matters.

Heat: how much hotter is the Prescott really? The termal specifications says 87 watts for the one I’m interested in as far as I know, that doesn’t sound that bad does it? As far as I can see an a64 is about the same, but is that at a bigger area?
How hard will it be to cool on my setup and how much more noise should I expect?
I’m seriously considering some kind of fan-control, preferably an automatatic one like the mcubed tbalancer, would that solve my problem? Noise doesn’t bother me that much when I’m gaming, when it’s kept reasonably down, and I recon a lot less cooling will be needed when I’m not stressing the CPU.
Another thing here is the rumours about intel including SpeedStep in the Prescott, will this happen (and when?) or has it already? – I think I have seen some roadmaps saying it has. And what will be required in order to use it?
I know amd’s PowerNow! have been around a for a while, any experiences? How much impact will it have? I like the thought of saving both energy and heat when the system is not under stress as I’d like to have it on a lot.

Performance: I can get a 90 nm a64 3500+ for about as much when using pc3200 ram in Denmark. I know it’s a lot faster, but how much is a lot? ;) and especially, how much will I feel in real world gaming, all the tests I’ve seen comparing p4 and amd 64 have been benchmarking in low-res which of course tell more about how the cpu is doing in the game, but less about how much impact it’ll have in the resolutions you’d normally play in.

And how much will 64 bit really mean? Is it only the capability of having more than 4 gb of memory, or is there a real gain when xp64 comes out? Is it something I should weight in my purchase-decision when I want my system to last?

And another thing: is there something worth enough waiting for to postpone building my system? I’m currently planning on doing it in December, I know I’m early in asking questions but I’d like to have everything planned in advance, as far as I know there’s only the p4 6xx-series coming, is that worth the while waiting for?

And then there’s the Dothan, I recon my budget would buy about 1800 mhz worth of it, is that a real alternative if I oc it?
I’ve not overclocked before and haven’t really considered it, with a pressie that isn’t really an option, is it? I might want to try it if I chose to deviate from my Prescott-plans though, if I chose an a64 for performance I reckon I might as well go all the way and overclock it as well – but that’d require me to invest more in ram, right?

Hmm, a lot of questions for you guys, hope you can help me.
 
If you want to avoid any potential prescott problems, you can go with a "c" series p4 and 865 or 875 motherboard. For amd, the socket 939 3000 dropped in price to $150 this weekend at one vender. You really don't have to spend alot on the cpu. Your power supply, memory, and cooling solution are the most critical choices for stability. Amd and Intel are both pretty stable with the right accessories.
 

endyen

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Most of the old stability issues stemmed from people buying cheap. Cheap ram can cause crashes, as well as a cheap psu. The big problem was with via chipsets. ME also was a factor.
All of the problems seem to have been resolved, since Nforce.
The prescotts have a large problem with idle power consumption. This stems from laekage current. Add to that the fan used by Intel, which has a high pitched squeal, and a new socket format that is not as good as the old 478.
64 bit will give performance boosts to a lot of progs, once they are coded for it. Even 32 bit progs will see some gain, in win64. 20% seems to be kicked around a lot, though a working os will be needed to make the numbers work.
Bothe the Intel and Amd chips overclock well. With Intel after market cooling is required.
If I were building a system for myself in Dec. I would get an Nforce4 board from Abit, and the s939 3200+.
 

peteroy

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The new stepping of LGA 775 Prescott run much cooler than the old stepping.

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<A HREF="http://www.intelreviews.com" target="_new">Intelreviews.com</A>
 

The_I

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I've considered a northwood c setup, my main problem with that is that I have to use AGP graphics, which will mean I won't be able to upgrade in a few years, right? As said I'm not planning to upgrade gfx (at least not if I'm going for the gfx 6800 gt) but I don't like not having the option...

What about the 6xx-series? is that worth the wait?

I don't like the thought of high idle wattage if I'm going to have my computer turned on a lot, speadstep would help there, wouldn't it?
And another thing about speadstep and powernow, can I use it and overclock at the same time?
 

The_I

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A correction: I've been calling AMDs cool n quiet technology powernow appearantly mixing it up with 3dnow.